Maurizio Cattelan Creates Solid Gold Toilet for the Guggenheim

Yes, it's fully functional.

Maurizio Cattelan, America (2016).Photo: Courtesy of the artist.
Maurizio Cattelan, America (2016).
Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Mischief may be Maurizio Cattelan‘s specialty, but don’t be mistaken: The 18-karat-gold toilet he’s installing at the Guggenheim Museum is real.

The Italian artist’s sculpture will dwell in one of the museum’s public restrooms, replacing a standard porcelain model which currently occupies the space. The work, which functions as a participatory project, encourages museum visitors to use the solid gold readymade when nature calls.

The artist named it America, a title which succeeds at articulating his loaded intentions. In a press release, the Guggenheim identifies Cattelan’s reaction to the “excesses of the art market” (of which Cattelan himself benefits as one of the most expensive living artists), and notes that the toilet functions as a facetious jab towards the one percent who can afford such ostentatious works.

Formally, Cattelan’s gold toilet is an obvious reference to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 Fountain. The Guggenheim addresses this affinity, cheekily stating that the “installation may be understood as countering the artistic transgression of Fountain by restoring the utility of their shared subject.”

Maurizio Cattelan.<br>Photo: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

Maurizio Cattelan.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan.

How the general audience will respond to the piece, on the other hand, is anybody’s guess. “It’s not my job to tell people what a work means,” Cattelan said in an interview with the New York Times“but I think people might see meaning in this piece.”

America, which will be on view (and in-use) starting May 4, marks the artist’s first serious artwork since his retrospective at the museum in 2012. A year before, Cattelan claimed to have retired from the art world, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been active since, especially through his involvement with Toiletpaper magazine, which he co-founded with Pierpaolo Ferrari.

In 2014, Cattelan worked on a documentary about himself; and he is creating an “irreverent” storm for Frieze New York this spring.

“Maurizio Cattelan: America” will be on view starting Wednesday, May 4.


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics

artnet and our partners use cookies to provide features on our sites and applications to improve your online experience, including for analysis of site usage, traffic measurement, and for advertising and content management. See our Privacy Policy for more information about cookies. By continuing to use our sites and applications, you agree to our use of cookies.

Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In